Chu to Congress: We’re not interested in lowering gas prices

posted at 11:00 am on February 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Hey, at least Energy Secretary Stephen Chu gave an honest answer.  When asked by Rep. Alan Nunnelee whether the Obama administration wants to work to get gas prices to come back down, Chu replied that they’re not focusing on that — and that higher gas prices mean more of a push for the alternative energy sources the administration wants to push:

“We agree there is great suffering when the price of gasoline increases in the United States, and so we are very concerned about this,” said Chu, speaking to the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee. “As I have repeatedly said, in the Department of Energy, what we’re trying to do is diversify our energy supply for transportation so that we have cost-effective means.”

Chu specifically cited a reported breakthrough announced Monday by Envia Systems, which received funding from DOE’s ARPA-E, that could help slash the price of electric vehicle batteries.

He also touted natural gas as “great” and said DOE is researching how to reduce the cost of compressed natural gas tanks for vehicles.

High gasoline prices will make research into such alternatives more urgent, Chu said.

“But is the overall goal to get our price” of gasoline down, asked Nunnelee.

“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu replied. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”

The Heritage Foundation jumped all over Chu’s comments:

As shocking as his remarks are, they shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chu has a long record of advocating for higher gas prices. In 2008, he stated, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Last March, he reiterated his point in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, noting that his focus is to ease the pain felt by his energy policies by forcing automakers to make more fuel-efficient automobiles. “What I’m doing since I became Secretary of Energy has been quite clear. What I have been doing is developing methods to take the pain out of high gas prices.”

One of those methods is dumping taxpayer dollars into alternative energy projects like the Solyndra solar plant. Another is subsidizing the purchase of high-cost electric cars like the Chevy Volt to the tune of $7,500 per car (which the White House wants to increase to $10,000). In both cases, those methods aren’t working. Solyndra went bankrupt because its product couldn’t bear the weight of market pressures, and Chevy Volts aren’t selling, even with taxpayer-funded rebates. What’s the president’s next plan? Harvesting “a bunch of algae” as a replacement for oil.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is seemingly doing everything it can to make paying for energy even more painful by refusing to open access to the country’s oil and gas reserves and blocking new projects that would lead to the development of more energy in America. Case in point: the president’s decision to say “no” to the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have delivered hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from Canada to Texas refineries, while bringing thousands of jobs along with it.

And while Chu gave an honest answer that actually matches the actions taken by this administration, Heritage notes that Obama has offered nothing but double-talk on gas prices:

Sensing impending political fallout from the high cost of gas, President Obama last week spoke on the subject and attempted to deflect blame for the pain. He said that there is no quick fix to high gas prices and the nation cannot drill its way out of the problem, but as Heritage’s Nicolas Loris writes, the president ignored reality and dished out a series of half-truths. Among them, the president claimed oil production is its highest in eight years, that increasing oil production takes too long, and that oil is not enough. Loris writes that while production is up on private lands, unrealized production on federal lands and offshore could have yielded even more output, increasing supply and driving down costs. If the president had said “yes” to Keystone, oil could have reach the market quickly. And as for the president’s push for alternative energy, those sources simply cannot stand the test of the market.

Even before Chu spilled the beans, Democrats have begun pressing Obama to start taking gas prices seriously:

Congressional Democrats are ramping up pressure on President Obama to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to prevent rising gas prices from threatening the economy and their election-year prospects.

They are growing anxious that the price of fuel could reverse their political fortunes, which had been improving due to signs of growth in the economy.

Republicans have hammered Democrats on the price spike, repeatedly noting that gas prices — now at $3.72 per gallon for regular — have doubled since Obama won the White House.

I guess Democrats in Congress don’t see this as a feature rather than a bug in Obama’s energy policies.  The RNC came out with a video slamming Obama for high gas prices, but I suspect they’ll be rushing a new video to publication featuring Chu’s “who cares” attitude.  Otherwise, this is a pretty effective 1-minute spot, and it might start showing up on TV broadcasts soon:

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Isn’t it odd how this administration would have us believe that the laws of supply and demand somehow don’t apply to oil. Or, as they are expressed by Chuckles Schumer, that increased production by the US would do nothing to bring down prices but increased production by the Saudis would. It’s almost as though they think we’re stoopid.

SukieTawdry on February 29, 2012 at 2:03 PM

What for? Prices will still rise, they have to. Demand for oil grows every year.

ernesto on February 29, 2012 at 1:19 PM

So your reason for not looking to increase supply is because demand is increasing?

BlueCollarAstronaut on February 29, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Exactly. This makes no sense at all. And what some people fail to realize is that the goal isn’t to rape the earth of fossil fuels; it’s only to use fossil fuels to propel technology to a point that alternatives are cost effective.

It’s absolutely non-sensical to arbitrarily inflate gas prices so everyone suffers no matter what. You really have to be a moron to buy into that. Policies like that will simply stifle progress and send us on a path back to the dark ages.

If you want a “pristine” world where there is no pollution you will not get there by limiting progress. You will only see that day when technological advancements make alternative clean evergy cost effective.

hisfrogness on February 29, 2012 at 2:06 PM

And how dare the Heritage Foundation “jump all over” Chu’s comments. Don’t they realize he’s a Nobel laureate??

SukieTawdry on February 29, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Our customers had it better than most since the major gas company we sold for did cash only, no record, deliveries in the middle of the night.
Franklyn on February 29, 2012 at 2:00 PM

I was born in 77, so I missed all of this fun. However, this stands out at me. Good for that company, and more of that will happen if this gets too out of hand.

cptacek on February 29, 2012 at 2:10 PM

They could take all of the federal taxes off the gas.

They could take all the federal taxes off Heating Oil.

Chu could immediately give permits for drilling especially in places where we can see foreign countries in our waters drilling for oil

Chu can tell Obama and Mrs. Clinton not to give away the oil rich Islands off the coast of Alaska to the Russians who will have no qualms about drilling there. (I can see Russian oil rigs from my house.)

There is no reason to tax the consumer of either of these products, gasoline or heating oil, (or natural gas in the home) they have already paid income tax on the money they use to buy these things.

Isn’t it funny that the spoiled libs have girls up on Capitol hill, whining that they cannot afford contraception, when gas costs everyone so much more than a month of pills ($15-$30), and REAL people, not pampered, lucky, law students have to put heating oil into their homes during the cold months.

What about us who cannot afford gas going up to $5 by summer vacation time, or heating oil currently at $4.37 a gallon on the east coast? You can go without, it is good for you not to drive, heat your house, but better make sure you can get “free” birth control.

Fleuries on February 29, 2012 at 2:14 PM

States should simply take their land back from the federal government. It has no right to any state land.

darwin on February 29, 2012 at 2:18 PM

I remember Dr. Chu’s “good” ideas at DoD. A career egg head. Think this guys is connected with most of us? About as close as he gets is behind the tinted widows of his government black lincoln limo. Does he pay for the gas? Tough life eh Cheuy?

StevC on February 29, 2012 at 2:20 PM

It’s almost as though they think we’re stoopid.

SukieTawdry on February 29, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Ya think?

belad on February 29, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Guess what, Mr. Chu? The American people have no interest in re-electing The Boy King either, especially if gas prices keep going up.

Mean Granny on February 29, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Isn’t it odd how this administration would have us believe that the laws of supply and demand somehow don’t apply to oil.

They push that view anywhere politics clashes with sound public policy (e.g. the minimum wage).

NoDonkey on February 29, 2012 at 2:51 PM

I’d like to serve chi some fugu, amateurishly prepared

Sonosam on February 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Obama himself doesn’t use any oil at all.


He never buys any or sees any or touches any, so it must be true.

profitsbeard on February 29, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Lower prices are impossible. Even the most generous estimates of possible unknown reserves will only last us so long – we can’t magically move our way back up to the hubble peak. Thanks to the steady growth of global demand for oil, and the fact that such steady growth creates an effective doubling of that demand every decade, we must pay more for oil. You could tap every well on earth, and at current levels of growth in the demand for oil, we will still run out in a relatively short amount of time.

There is no turning back the clock. At best, new reserves will allow the price to hover for a short time – they can do no better than that.

ernesto on February 29, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Then lets quit buying any or drilling any oil at all… I mean we’ll just start using the $33 algae biofuel now. Since drilling more oil, looking for more oil, and getting more oil is pointless; lets quit trying, right? That’s the end result of your point, more supply is useless, the price will be higher regardless, so paying an even higher price than we need to is justified.

Sure prices will triple, energy prices will skyrocket, and the economy will crash… but so what. We’re not willing to even bother ourselves to try to save the economy, let it all burn.

Or did you have a different plan from “let it all burn, let everyone starve” ernesto? What do you think happens when we follow your “to heck with bothering about supply, don’t bother even trying to get energy” plan?

Are we going with the Obama election plan of 2008?

Around 3:10:
“We will also take steps to reduce the price of oil”.

So maybe it’s impossible to reduce the price of oil; but why did Obama claim he was going to? Is he too stupid to know what you know? Or is he simply lying to get votes knowing full well he cant’ and won’t do anything of the sort?

Well all politicians lie for votes, right?

“We need a President who is going to be straight with us about that. We need a President who is going to tell us not just what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.”

Sure he promised to tell us the hard truth, right after lying to us telling us what we wanted to hear… right? That is some amazing hypocrisy from the “smartest man in the room” isn’t it?

Or is your claim that Obama is far too stupid to even understand the problem, so he’s truthful, but really really stupid?

Is there a third option? I’d hate to give you a false choice here, if he’s not a hypocritical liar, and not stupid… how do you explain his statements that he’s tell us the hard truth, and work to lower gas prices (when lowering gas prices is impossible and everyone knows it)?

And block off drilling and reduce supply as much as he can, while claiming he’ll work to lower the price… somehow.

Can we go with a different plan? I think this one is busted.

gekkobear on February 29, 2012 at 3:28 PM

In other news…water is wet.

Southgirl on February 29, 2012 at 3:33 PM

They aren’t gouging.
rickv404 on February 29, 2012 at 1:33 PM

You’re right. The oil companies are employing free market principles.

I do think there is a quid pro quo at work here.

Regardless, it’s a pretty safe bet that the word “gouging” will be passing through the twisted lips of President 10-289 in the coming days.

MichaelGabriel on February 29, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Chu to Congress: We’re not interested in lowering gas prices

I think we figured that out several years ago.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM

States should simply take their land back from the federal government. It has no right to any state land.

darwin on February 29, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Agreed. The only land the feds should have is whatever is required for national defense.

rhit87 on February 29, 2012 at 4:20 PM

The ass clowns that run the republican party should be blasting this all over the media. Only loons didn’t realize that this was the kind of elitist that was coming with the obama administration. This clown is f’ed up and we pay the price. He believes in global warming and lives off taxpayers.

kozmo on February 29, 2012 at 4:54 PM

States should simply take their land back from the federal government. It has no right to any state land.

darwin on February 29, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Agreed. The only land the feds should have is whatever is required for national defense.

rhit87 on February 29, 2012 at 4:20 PM

YES. Let’s get on that next January.

slickwillie2001 on February 29, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Yeah. If only, we had a candidate who wanted to eliminate the Dept. of Energy.

Yes but then unemployment would go up a few percentage points from eliminating that gov’t agency.

Mahdi on February 29, 2012 at 7:57 PM

Chu to Congress: We’re not interested in lowering gas prices

And I’m supposed to be ‘civil?’ How, exactly?

ncborn on February 29, 2012 at 8:52 PM

Every time I pull into the Chicago south suburban gas station in my flexfuel Ford Fusion (V6, you know) and get a look at the $3.89 a gallon price tag, I am comforted by the presence of the black guys in huge V8 SUVs. I know that the chances are well better than 9 out of 10 that the dope voted for O’Bonehead, who was promising to jack up gas prices.

Nothing warms my heart like seeing a dope union drone paying $90 to fill up.

Jaibones on February 29, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Chu is a special kind of stupid, and I, for one, welcome his refreshing honesty. Put his dopey little face on a commercial and play it every day for the next 6 months.

Jaibones on February 29, 2012 at 11:11 PM

I don’t like chew very much! In fact, not at all….

What a motley crewe Obama has assembled!

Sherman1864 on March 1, 2012 at 2:20 AM

Don’t they realize he’s a Nobel laureate??

SukieTawdry on February 29, 2012 at 2:10 PM


And Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for absolutely nothing.

Myron Falwell on March 1, 2012 at 2:54 AM

O.k… why in the world do liberals hate oil anyways?

Is it because it makes people prosperous?

Is it because it gives people mobility?

Is it because it gives people freedom?

Is it because America has so much of it?

Is it because it drives our economy?

Is it because it gives us our high standard of living?

Seriously, why do they hate oil so much?

Theophile on March 1, 2012 at 5:14 AM

Do the idiots in this administration not know that there are many other uses for oil other than making gasoline? Apparently, Secretary Chu, despite his Nobel prize, is brain dead in that oil is required for plastics, medicines, etc, etc. Just goes to show that a Nobel doesn’t mean ANYTHING, huh? And, then there’s the ban on 100 watt bulbs, the low flush toilets, …. just don’t get me started on those IDIOTIC ideas coming out of Washington!

CaptSteve on March 1, 2012 at 8:46 AM

It’s ironic that Obama et al have always accused Bush et al of being exactly what the Obama-types actually are: in the pocket of OPEC in general and the Saudis in particular.

Knott Buyinit on March 11, 2012 at 11:18 AM